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Class Act: Charter school to accept union

  • June 13, 2014 - 9:12 PM

Unless there’s a finding that people were coerced in voting, the Community School of Excellence said, it will abide by what it described as a “historic unionization vote” by employees Wednesday.

“The union campaigned on the theme, ‘Say Yes to CSE Success!’ and we trust that the union and all our employees will go forward together with commitment and dedication to our mission,” Superintendent Mo Chang said in a statement released Wednesday.

The St. Paul school will become the second unionized charter school in the state.

The vote to form a union affects all of the school’s 120 employees, and comes nearly a year after the state Department of Education shed light on management issues at the school by calling for an investigation into the alleged misuse of funds and allegations that it engaged in retaliatory employment practices.

The K-8 school, which teaches Hmong culture and language, has seen remarkable growth. This spring, it had 958 students — more than five times the number when it opened in 2007.

Anthony Lonetree

 

Eden Prairie to ask again for tax increase

Eden Prairie Public Schools will ask voters to increase its existing operating levy by $700 per pupil, a move that district officials say will stabilize finances and limit budget cuts for the next five years.

The school board voted Thursday to put two questions on the ballot this November. The first asks voters to renew a portion of the existing operating levy of $589 per pupil and to increase that amount by $700. The owner of a $325,000 home would see an annual net tax increase of $96.

Voters also will be asked to approve an increase of $150 per pupil for a possible total operating levy of $1,439. If voters approved both questions, the owner of a $325,000 house would see an annual net tax increase of $152.

If that amount is approved, the district will be able to lower class sizes for some elementary grades and hire staff, administrators say.

Spokesman Bob Noyed said the district’s operating levy is less than surrounding districts. “We’re probably $300 to $900 less per pupil than our neighbors,” he said.

Last year, Eden Prairie voters defeated a request to raise its operating levy, but a technology levy was approved.

Kim McGuire

 

West Metro board is asked to fire principal

An attorney representing a group of parents and teachers Wednesday asked the school board of a west metro integration district to fire Kevin Bennett, its sole principal, submitting a dossier alleging multiple misdeeds.

The request follows 18 months of turmoil in the arts-oriented West Metro Education Program, which began when Bennett was put on leave and later suspended for two days for several infractions, including using his position to date several female subordinates.

The dossier represents a stunning turnaround for Bennett, who was named Minnesota’s 2012 middle school principal of the year.

Complaints involving Bennett have been submitted to the state Board of School Administrators three times.

Meanwhile, the board agreed to hire Keith Lester, former Brooklyn Center superintendent, as interim superintendent.

Steve Brandt

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